I am a writer and avid reader of romances particularly historical romances. Please join me on my journey through time
Please welcome C. M. Subasic author of The Forty Watt Flowers.
The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Use the rafflecopter code below to leave a comment for a chance to win.
The Forty Watt Flowers
by C.M. Subasic
For some reason that currently escapes me, at 16 I decided to spend a year writing a sequel to the movie Stars Wars. I sat in our basement every afternoon and into the night, drinking cup of tea after cup of tea, tapping away on my father’s typewriter. The story involved another type of death star, made up of multiple ships that could click together like lego. I dreamed of starring in the movie, with me as Luke Skywalker’s love interest. I photocopied the manuscript at the school library to prove my copyright (who I learned that from, I dunno) and sent it down to 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles, California.
Well, no surprise they turned it down, but what a great first rejection! The letterhead was gorgeous, showing Luke standing in a circle holding up a light sabre. Yet, so hurt was I by the rejection, I threw the letter out. HUGE regret there. Not too long after that, I started working at a theatre company that specialized in the development of new Canadian plays and I started searching around for my own stories to tell.
I’ve had 7 plays produced across Canada and founded several theatre and production companies. Samantha Bee (of the Daily Show) was in one of my theatre troupes.
It starts from something I’m struggling with, such as a relationship problem, or something else in my life, then I look for the broader struggle it represents that people can connect with.
For The Forty Watt Flowers it is the struggle to create. We all have this need, this deep desire, to create something out of nothing. How proud children are when they make a mud pie, or put some blocks together. The act of making something is like magic. Seeing the smile on someone else’s face; there’s nothing more powerful than that, is there?
For my current work, I’m looking at power and respect in the romantic relationships. When the power is out of balance, how can it be restored?
What expertise did you bring to your writing?
As I was initially an actor then playwright, I bring an ear for dialogue. In fact, I use a lot of acting techniques in the development of my work.
I try to look for the rhythm of characters, how they breathe and move.
I am also a plot geek / script doctor. Once in a while, a theatre company, publisher or writer throws me a manuscript and asks me to prescribe a process to fix it. I find the experience of looking at a diamond in the rough teaches me more than reading perfect books or plays ever can.
I’ve never been in a band. I write about music, I don’t play it. Although I do know why a piano has black keys.
I am so envious of the singer, Aline. She may be shy, but she has a focus so strong, it’s laser-like. So focused is she, that sometimes she’ll be staring off into space thinking and you’ll ask her a question and she won’t hear you. She gives the impression of being stupid, but she hides a creative powerhouse of a personality.
Aline is a French name, as her family originally came from Louisiana. It’s pronounced like this: Ah-lynn. Her family settled in Savannah, where they developed a thriving import-export business in textiles.
The character was inspired by the singer for the Athens band Pylon, Vanessa Briscoe-Hay. Vanessa as a singer has an intense onstage persona that is at once electric and slightly odd. She goes so totally into a song, she takes you into it with her
I’m envious of anyone who can find focus, because my interests skitter and jump with each beep, flash or pop.
A writer needs to look at their writing from a variety of perspectives. This requires thoughtful, probing questions from all directions, which some critique groups can give.
The deeper, the more knowledgeable the group on the mechanics of writing: plot structure, character development, genres and styles — the greater impact they have on your work. But not in an English class way. An understanding of artistic process is more important. When they say “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it” they should have the ability to tell you why. Their role is to support you in finding where the story works and where it could be better. Really good reviewers will suggest a process that might help the writer move their work along.
For example, if a scene is reading as too flat, they could suggest the exercise of writing it from the other character’s point of view to get their insights, then build those layers into the original.
Critique groups work best when you have a good first draft of a least part of your book, not before that. When you’re writing a first draft, you need to let go of any criticism to explore the possibilities. Outside opinions can put the brakes on your creativity.
It’s important to remember that it’s my story, not theirs. The hardest part of writing is listening to your own advice, because deep down, if you really listen, you’ll know when something is good. It pings at you.
Best advice: After you’ve written a draft you think is amazing, put it in a drawer. Forget about it for a while. Only when you’ve forgotten it should you look at it again. The fresh perspective, the distance, gives you more insight than the best editor.
After that re-write, stand up and read it aloud. When you feel the language in the body, you feel its rhythm, and that changes everything.
Worst advice: Go on, submit it! What’s the harm? The truth is, editors, agents and producers are NOT looking for diamonds in the rough. They want something with a clear vision.
I outline the climaxes, the primary characters at a very rough level. On a single page I will list each chapter, the point it makes and whether it’s a structural component, and refer to this regularly. It is my way of looking at “the big picture.” But it’s taken years to get here.
It takes a fine balance of understanding the structure of a work — where you are in the story — what component parts have to be there to create a good reading experience and the artistry of the work — the moment-to-moment honesty of words on the page; the ability of the story as a whole to connect with an audience.
I do a lot of homework for a book. I’ll read anything I can on the topic, interview people, watch movies or videos. The notes from each experience get added to my artist ‘swatches’ I can refer to later and weave into the content.
I am a true foodie, trying out new recipes, inviting people over for multi-course feasts that go until two in the morning. The enjoyment of food always works into my writing somehow.
At its core, The Forty Watt Flowers is about the yearning to create something beautiful. The opposite of creation is destruction, so to explore this theme fully, I needed to look at how destruction plays a part in the process. How we will self-sabotage our attempts to move forward, how we can destroy ourselves through some of our choices, how we lash out harshest at those we love most dearly.
There are quite a few dark moments and monstrous aspects of some characters. Here is the dark moment that haunts the main character most:
A few years ago, Trisha was driving her sister Molly, to a party when they were in a car accident. Molly was wearing a puffy dress and refused to wear her seatbelt, so when the truck hit, she was thrown around the inside of the vehicle, received life-threatening head injuries and went into a coma. Naturally, Molly becomes their mother Dawn’s prime concern. Trisha is brought along for the ride: the conversations with doctors and insurers, reading research, hours at the hospital, sitting at Molly’s bedside. Despite pouring everything they have into Molly’s care, including all of their savings, Molly dies. At the funeral, for reasons Trisha can’t fathom, in a single quiet yet brutal moment, her mother turns into a seething, animal like creature and says: Molly’s death is all your fault.
If you’ve ever been the driver in an accident where someone was hurt, you know the guilt, the shame, the “what ifs?” you go through. Dawn is traumatized by her daughter’s death, and has always seen Trisha as the “reliable” daughter, the “strong” daughter. In Dawn’s grief, she is so focused on what she lost, she forgets to care for what she has left. She drives a wedge deep and Trisha feels she is forced to leave her family behind and cuts off all connection with them.
Throughout the story, Trisha is having second thoughts about her decision to sever family ties. Without a family, what’s thanksgiving or Christmas? What’s the point in getting married if there’s no one to fight over arrangements with? Who will come to her funeral? As time has passed she has developed a mantra that she says to herself with a mocking half-seriousness: For all tense porpoises, I’m an orphan.
I have a few questions for your readers (even if they are all the same question, just going at it from different angles): What do the dark moments of a book show us and why do you think they are an essential part of any story? What is it we get out of reading about “the dark side”? Why is it enjoyable?
Writers Assembly: https://writersassembly.wordpress.com/
Book website: www.fortywattflowers.com
All Trisha wants to do is create something meaningful. Since she’s living in Athens, GA, she brings four other women together and the rock band The Forty Watt Flowers is formed. But making good music isn’t as easy as it sounds. From the jock atmosphere of the garage where they rehearse to the beer-soaked bars when they gig, these five young women struggle to find beauty in the mess of notes they try to play and the chaos of their lives.
First Rehearsal, Aline & Trisha
Trisha sat on the curb beside her. “Aline, I’m not an experienced musician or anything. I have no idea what we’re doing. I’m just—”
“You’re going to do very well at this, I can tell,” Aline said.
“I just can, that’s all.”
Their gazes met. Aline’s smile was so open, like a warm bath.
Trisha asked, “When you write a poem, how do you do it?”
Aline bit her lip. “A poem for me …” She shook her head, started again, “The first thing I do is I get all quiet and I listen.”
Aline nodded. “I start with something that resonates with me,” she said. “It’s like I’m looking for the seed. That seed has to shake, like all of inside me is just going B-O-I-N-G-! B-O-I-N-G-!”
Trisha repeated, “Boing.”
Aline sang, drawing it out, “B-O-I-N-G —I-N-G!”
Trisha repeated, “B-O-I-N-G —I-N-G!”
Aline smiled. “You got it.” Then with eyes intent on that interior space of hers, she continued, “Well, that boing gives me a beat. Some days, there’s nothing there. Other days, there’s ten or twelve ideas screaming and it scares me. And then I—”
A thought rang like a chord, high and clear in Trisha’s thoughts. She wasn’t sure if it was because of what Aline had said, or if she’d just needed the space to let it appear. But there it was. She jumped up.
“Aline?” she said.
“We need to get back in there.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Colleen is award-winning editor who started her writing life as a playwright. She has had 7 plays produced across Canada and worked with the likes of Samantha Bee (yes, from The Daily Show) and Leah Cherniak.
Her plays include Back Alley Boys about the hardcore punk scene in Toronto, Eye am Hear which tells the tale of a luddite teenage squatters at some undetermined punkish time in the future, A Brief Case of Crack Addicted Cockroaches about the relationship between the media and politics featuring a city councillor who smokes crack (which was never produced because it was too off the wall) and Interbastation about the beauty in ugliness and the ugliness in beauty. Her novel Public Image tied for second in the Anvil Press International 3-day Novel competition.
In addition to her work as a playwright, Colleen puts on the dramaturgy, editor and script doctor hats for a range of publishers, producers and writer clients. She has a Master in Creative Writing from the prestigious UBC Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing and has taught play writing at the university level. She’s also done the Board of Directors thing with the Playwrights Guild of Canada, The Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver and other arts organizations.
She was managing editor of Taking the Stage: Selections from plays by Canadian Women which was selected as the “most saleable dramatic publication of the year” by the Canadian Booksellers’ Association. She has also been awarded Arts Council grants by the province of Ontario and Nova Scotia. She has served on the judging panel of several internationl novel awards. Her one-person play Interbastation was selected as one of the top-10 best shows by CBC Winnipeg in 1998.
She lived in Athens from 1999 to 2001 and, while there, reviewed and edited manuscripts for Hill Street Press.
Colleen currently resides in her birthplace, Toronto, with three grey cats and a drawer full of lint brushes.
Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/colleesu
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Forty-Watt-Flowers-Subasic/dp/149937299X
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a print copy of The Forty Watt Flowers (US/Canada only) to 2 randomly drawn hosts.
Please use this rafflecopter code to leave a comment for a chance to win: